book cover of fifteenth summer by michelle dalton

Magan: Fifteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton

book cover of fifteenth summer by michelle daltonFifteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton ( twitter )
Also known as Elizabeth Lenhard.
Publication date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 272
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: death in the family, first love, close family relationships
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thank you!)

Summary: Chelsea’s fifteenth summer is going to be one full of adventures and growth — she’s learning how to move on after the passing of her grandmother, but she’s also becoming a responsible young adult by holding her first real job. Oh, and she’s also falling in love for the very first time.

Allow me to set the stage: Fifteen-year-old Chelsea’s grandmother has just passed away. Her family is road-tripping from California to Michigan to spend the summer in her grandmother’s house, as they normally do each year. Except this year, everything’s different. Chelsea can’t look around without being overwhelmed by memories; it doesn’t seem right to be at the lake when her grandmother isn’t around to enjoy it with them. How will Chelsea make it through the summer and what will they decide to do with her grandmother’s house?

To pass the time and allow themselves to put their grieving on pause, Chelsea’s family does a ton of family activities together when they first arrive at the lake. That’s all well and good, but when you have three boy crazy teenage girls, they’re going to want to explore on their own so they can find their summer flings. (Am I right?) As Chelsea’s two older sisters are chasing down the boys they’ve got their eyes on, she meanders into a new bookstore that’s opened since she was at the lake last year. (It’s called Dog Ear. How cute is that?!) Her e-reader very inconveniently broke so she’s in need of a few physical books. As she rounds the corner of the YA section, she sees a young (cute) boy ripping the covers off of books. Chelsea’s first interaction with Josh, the owner’s son, is awkward to say the least.

Much of Chelsea’s coming weeks are spent trying to figure out Josh. Does he like her? He seems to be interested, but after he does something somewhat forward, he backs away almost entirely. This being her first foray into a relationship, Chelsea is completely boggled. My gosh, how this brought me back to those days when I read too much into every interaction, when I replayed a kiss over and over and over again in my head, or when I would forget what I was doing because I was simply too wrapped up in being in love. This, friends, is where Dalton really shined; she captured the essence of first love so perfectly. It’s not easy to navigate the choppy waters of falling in love. Who knows what to do instinctually? (I certainly didn’t.)

Fifteenth Summer is such a lovely portrayal of what it’s like to grow up and lose someone important to you. It’s about the whirlwind of falling in love for the first time and all the sweet firsts that accompany it. There’s a great depiction of what it is to have strong family ties, but to learn to bend the rules a little bit as you become independent of your family and pave your own road.

In case you need further prodding, be sure to check out the excerpt from Fifteenth Summer that I shared for the Fourth of July.

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Sweet Summertime Reads: A Fourth of July First Date

Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature with Fiction Folio and GReads!

I have a few favorite Fourth of July scenes in books (most vivid: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson — *swoon*). This week we’re sharing excerpts of those such scenes for Sweet Summertime Reads. I decided this might be the perfect opportunity to share a book I recently read, Fifteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton, with you. It’s about first love and growing up. It’s about the awkwardness of falling in love and not always knowing what to do with your hands, what to say, or how to proceed next.

Setting the Scene: In this excerpt, Chelsea and Josh are on their first official date. A Fourth of July first date. They’ve been “dating” for a few weeks, but hadn’t really gone out by themselves yet. Chelsea had dinner with her parents on the beach, and Josh made his way over to meet her family before they were allowed to go off on their own. At first, things are a little bit awkward for them when they find their spot on the beach to watch the show. What do they say? Why doesn’t Chelsea know what to do? Eventually they find themselves discussing what it is to know someone completely — whether it’s a lifelong quest to know someone completely or whether you can mostly know everything about someone.

“Well, I hope this doesn’t sound bad,” I said, “but I think you’ve got some issues with, you know, control.”

Josh smiled a tiny bit, then took his hand back and leaned into the sand, propping himself up on his elbows. He gave me an I’m listening look.

“Well, there’s the way you have a folder or drawer or cubby for every little thing at Dog Ear [the bookstore his parent’s owned],” I said.

“That’s true.” Josh nodded.

“And you do this sport that’s all about precision and timing,” I said.  “And what about your friends? You skipped that whole lantern-making extravaganza even though I can think of one person — one girl — who would have really liked to see you there.”

Josh snorted.

“And then there’s your hair,” I said.

“My hair?” Josh said, slapping his hand on top of his head.

“No, no, I love your hair!” I said, getting up on my knees so I could reach over and stroke his sleek, spiky hair. His eyes fluttered closed for a moment. “It’s just that it’s so different from a lot of boys’ hair. It’s so close-cropped, it never gets messy, never gets in your eyes. It’s very…practical.”

Josh shook his head slowly as he gazed at me. And in the almost darkness I couldn’t quite tell what was going on in his face. Was he mad?

“But attractive,” I said with an earnest nod. “Did I mention th–”

I didn’t get to finish what I was saying, because Josh was on his knees too, wrapping his arms around me and kissing me hard. He came at me with such force — or maybe just because it was too dark for him to have good depth perception — that we toppled over into the sand. We landed, our arms still tangled up together, on our sides.

This made us burst out laughing. But then, quickly, we were kissing again, our hands buried in each other’s hair and our bodies pressed together. When we finally broke apart, we were breathing hard. We lay on our backs for a moment, staring up into the black sky.

Then Josh rolled over so that he was facing me, and I rolled toward him. He put his hand on my cheek.

“I think you do have me pegged,” he said.

“Oh, I don’t know,” I said with a coy smile. “I think I’ve got to do some more investigating.”

[break in the scene]

“I’m enjoying not-figuring you out,” I said.

“I’m enjoying not-figuring you out too,” Josh said. Then he squelched my laugh with another kiss — a kiss so long and deep that it made me feel dizzy, especially in the pitch-dark of our little nest near the dune. I sank into the kissing so deeply that I forgot where we were.

Which is why I was startled when we were interrupted by a huge Pow!

Only when I saw bright red sparks tendrilling down through the sky over the lake did I remember.

“The fireworks!” I said.

Josh’s hand was on his chest.

“I forgot too!” he said breathlessly.


The next one was gold and shimmery. It made a little sizzling noise after it exploded.

I signed and leaned against Josh. He swung his arm around my shoulders, and I snuggled in even closer.

Usually, watching the fireworks made me feel tiny, almost consumed by the huge starbursts looming above me. But in Josh’s arms I felt different. Safe and not quite as small as before. But way more exhilarated.


Add Fifteenth Summer to Goodreads

Read Ginger’s Excerpts from Second Chance Summer and Endless Summer

Read Estelle’s Excerpt from Nantucket Blue

Read Tara’s Fourth of July Excerpt